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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lasers V. Peels: Which Makes Sense For You?

Short of having plastic surgery and botox injections, getting cosmetic or laser peels is about the best thing you can do to turn back the clock on your skin so that everyone who sees you goes, "My, you look wonderful sweetie!" Personally I am not really ready to have someone cut into me, peel my face away and sew it back on. Yes, that is exactly what is done during a facelift. Gross, isn't it? And when you get Botox injections there is the chance that you can get "droopiness" which is the effect of too much of the poison in the muscle causing it to droop and make you look like you had a stroke. Peels are temporary solutions, which means they are not as strong, but temporary also means that you are not as likely to suffer major adverse reactions.

Let me talk to you about peels. These are chemical peels that use acids in varying strengths to remove skin layers. In removing the layers, the look of sun damage is decreased, acne scars disappear, and medium to fine lines also will often be removed, depending on the strength of the peel. Usually you would see an esthetician for most peels. Even doctors have peels that estheticians can apply under their supervision. Peels range in strength from those used at home, such as Dr. Dennis Gross's Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel which is $85.00 (Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel). Generally these have pads and there are two steps. In step 1 you apply the peel and wait a few minutes. Then you apply Step 2 to neutralize the peel. It is important to neutralize it or you may end up peeling away more layers of skin than you intended. These types of peels have ingredients such as lactic acid, malic acid and/or salicylic acid. There are a couple of peels (Jessner's and TCA) that estheticians can use, they should be available only to them as they are very strong and if you find them anywhere I would not recommend that you use them without help from a professional. 

Physicians have peels that are extremely strong, that leave you so red and remove so many layers of skin that you are often not able to see people for a few days. The peel I am speaking of is the Obagi peel. Physician's peel are more expensive of course, but if you are looking for better results it is worth it. I would recommend them for those with extensive sun damage, acne scars and/or light lines. Sometimes your skin is so raw afterwards you need to wear Aquaphor on it for a few days! The cost of the Obagi system ranges from $1500 to $3500 depending on how deep the peel went.

Finally, let's talk lasers. Laser peels, or laser resurfacing as it is called, are much more expensive. There are two types of lasers. The first is a wounding or ablative laser that removes thin layers of skin. Second we have the non-ablative laser or non-wounding laser which stimulates collagen growth and tightens the underlying skin. It is less effective than ablative laser technology because it is not as invasive. Stimulating collagen growth is great because collagen is one of the proteins in the skin, along with elastin, that help to hold to keep it firm. Once elastin is gone, it cannot be reproduced again. Collagen can however and the fact that lasers can help that shows great strides in skin care. Laser resurfacing also addresses acne scars, sun damage but it is better at removing fine to medium lines around the lines and lips. There are also many different lasers out there. I am familiar with at least six. The two most common are the CO2 and the Erbium-YAG. The final things to consider are: are you a good candidate for laser resurfacing and can you afford it? It is not good for those who are prone to keloid scarring, hyper- and hypo-pigmentation. Resurfacing costs at least $5000. Like I said, can you afford it?

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